Do you constantly feel like there is not enough time, not enough resources, not enough publications, just not enough? This isn’t a coincidence (and it isn’t the truth). In academia we’ve been conditioned into a scarcity mindset.
An abundance mindset means you feel like there is enough of something: enough time, enough resources, plenty to go around for everyone. Scarcity mindset assumes there is never enough, and you better scramble and scratch for everything you can get. We’ve been conditioned to see our careers through a scarcity lens, but it does not have to be that way!
What is a Scarcity Mindset?
Scarcity mindset, the feeling that there is never enough, is rampant in academia. When we never know how much is enough, it breeds feelings of never enough.
- If it is unclear exactly how many publications you need for tenure, it ends up feeling like there are never enough.
- When your department chair sends out the vibe that there is no money for anything and don’t even bother asking, it can seem like there is never enough money.
- When we don’t have a clear academic mission statement and clear boundaries around our time, it feels like there is never enough time in the day.
- If you work hard and still don’t get promoted, it may feel like you are not enough.
“What if we stopped saying ‘there’s not enough time’ and what if we started saying ‘there is enough time; my priorities need shifting.’”
Consequences of Scarcity Mindset for Your Writing
The scarcity mindset affects your writing, your output, even the quality of your publications.
- When you believe there is ‘never enough’ time to write, you will feel overwhelmed and guilty about your writing.
- When you feel that there are ‘never enough’ publications, you may say yes to publication opportunities that don’t line up with your mission, or take on too many projects.
- If you can’t say no to projects, your pipeline turns into a funnel and gets clogged up and unproductive.
“One of the reasons that you can’t say no is because you are conditioned toward scarcity.”
What Can We Do About It?
Scarcity is a mindset, not a reality. The key to changing how we feel about abundance vs. scarcity is to stop and take a critical look at the reality of each situation. Here are some steps to take to help you change your mindset, and by consequence, your experience of your career.
- Recognize that scarcity mindset is based on a fear that more won’t come. If you don’t do this thing now, you might not get another chance. This is true sometimes! But in the vast majority of cases, you will have another chance. Be honest with yourself and look the fear in the eye.
- Realize that you will get more work done, better quality work done, if you focus in instead of taking on everything. Stay in your zone of genius, even if it means saying no to some things, and you will see much better results.
- Create systems and processes that help you keep moving forward in your own direction. Establish boundaries for yourself and others to protect your time, energy, and resources.
- Take a close look at the cultural and institutional conditioning that you may not have even noticed before. Which areas are always well funded? Is there an underlying belief that you can only do the work within time constraints if you have lots of support at home? Always question and push back against these cultural issues that need to change in our institutions.
“I will write more, produce more, publish more by saying no to things.”
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